Monday, June 29, 2015

Costa Coffee PH

I was a teenager in the late 80s, and during that time London was synonymous with everything hip. Being the capital of cool Brittania, it is also home to Bono of U2, John Taylor of Duran Duran, Princess Diana... Ok, enough, I think I'm dating myself.  I know when I mention David Beckham, Kate Middleton, Stella McCartney, a lot more people can relate to them nowadays.  But, really, did you ever notice that London is a city that never stops buzzing with movers and shakers of the world's fashion, art and music. Anyone who's anyone is based there.

The latest London recruit to come to the Philippine shores is Costa Coffee. It may not be a familiar name to the Manila crowd right now, but it is actually the 2nd largest coffeehouse chain in the world next to Starbucks, and the biggest in the UK.

Costa Coffee is all about great coffee, delicious food and a dazzling array of hot and cold drinks. They will be serving Manila a wide selection of hot and cold drinks, including their bestsellers, which is the Flat White.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Wishful thinking: Kitchen {Le Creuset}

Because I have reached that age which my kids consider OLD, I have now become true to what they think of me (i.e. boring! teehee!). What other way to welcome and celebrate middle age than my first wishful thinking posts about POTS and PANS!

But these are not any ordinary cookware... these are Le Creuset!


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Mothers Who Brunch {An Event by Momma 'N Manila + Sinfully Sabrina + Viking Range}

As a mom who loves to spend time cooking in the kitchen, I always try to seek out inspiration so that I can constantly improve myself. I read through cookbooks like I do novels; I browse Pinterest and cooking blogs for new recipes to try; I follow “foodies” in Instagram; but the most fun thing to do would be to spend time with fellow moms who love to cook in the kitchen.

So when Mish of Momma ‘N Manila told me a few weeks ago that she was thinking of organizing a small group to meet up and have fun cooking together in the kitchen, I knew it was something I would really enjoy doing; and so I blocked off that date in my calendar right away… even if the event was in the other end of Manila. Hanging out in the kitchen with Mish is one of the things I’ve always wanted to do. I always tell her, if we just both live close to each other, I’d always be in her beautiful and spacious kitchen!

Here's Mish doing what she does to relieve her of stress - cooking with several pots, pans, tagines and a griddle on the burner.

Monday, June 22, 2015

DreamPlay at City of Dreams

It's a school holiday for the kids of San Juan this coming Wednesday in celebration of the Araw ng San Juan. In case your kids go to school in San Juan, then taking them to visit DreamPlay would be perfect. It's a weekday so it's less crowded, plus admission rates are lower on weekdays.

If you've bever been, allow me to share with you what to expect when we took the kids to DreamPlay before school started as a last summer hurrah. 

DreamPlay is an all-new interactive entertainment concept that is the one place in the world where your favorite DreamWorks Animation characters come together and allow you to PLAY, CREATE and LEARN. Interactive environments, featuring the very latest digital technologies, will enable kids to engage in a wide range of thrilling activities, interacting with beloved characters from DreamWorks Animation’s world-famous franchises including KungFu Panda, Shrek, Madagascar and How to Train Your Dragon.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Super Coffee: A Smile In Your Cup + Giveaway

Super Coffee GIVEAWAY at the end of this post!!!

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to an exclusive and intimate media launch for Super Coffee. Super Coffee is a Singaporean brand which enjoys dominance in the Southeast Asian market in terms of instant food and beverages.

Unlike other brands in the market, Super Coffee prides itself in its roasting and blending techniques which is able to faithfully capture the aroma of an authentic cup of coffee. I believe in the brand so when they named me as one of their Super Coffee Smile Ambassadors, I gladly accepted! And because I'm a Smile ambassador, look what I have for you... one lucky reader get a chance to win a truckload of coffee! Teehee! Well, technically, a one-year supple of coffee - twice a day, everyday! Read to the end of this post for the complete mechanics.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Expo Mom 2015 + Mommy Mundo Top Mom Picks Guidebook

When I was just a new mom, I remember having a difficult time shopping for baby items.  I loved that there are a lot of choices available, but I hated that I had to guess which ones were actually worth buying.

When I first heard of the Expo Mom Bazaar many years ago, it was like an answer to my prayers. All the right brands are housed in one roof for three days. What I love about ExpoMom is that most of the brands are being run my mommies themselves; this is the reason why I know that the products being sold in the bazaar are mommy-tested and mommy-approved. The owners themselves are on hand to answer my queries in the bazaar.

A few weeks ago, Expo Mom 2015 was held at the Glorietta 2 Activity Center.  Even if I’m done with babies, there are a lot of products for school-age kids, as well. And my teenager even found some items that she wanted to buy.

Here are photos of some of my favorite finds:
My Big Girl loves the BuiltNY owl lunch bag on the topmost left. Too bad her stainless steel lunch container is too big to fit in it. Perfect na sana. BuiltNY is exclusively distributed by QuirksPH and it is available in all Rustans outlets.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

{Phenomenal Tip} DIY Handpainted Canvas Bags by Whimsical Sushi

Since the kids were really young, summer has really been all about DIY crafts, baking, cooking, drawing, painting... basically all kinds of creating going on around here. 

I am just really loving this beautiful bag hand-painted by my daughter. 
I love the combination of colors and the design. And basically the very idea of how she thought of re-purposing an unused canvas bag into something so pretty.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Weekend Footnotes: Hole In The Wall at Century City Mall

A few Sundays before summer officially ended for the kids, C and I decided to take the kids out to Century City Mall to try Hole In The Wall.  The concept is that of a food hall where you order from different restaurants and eat it at a common dining area… the concept is like that of fast food, but the atmosphere is definitely much more upmarket.

Monday, June 8, 2015

QQ Alkaline Water Bottle + A Giveaway

I really think when you get to be my age, one is really made to be more aware of health issues. Consequently, a shift to a healthier lifestyle is really the order of the day. That is also what led me to be more conscious about what food I feed my family, which led me to be an advocate for Cleaner Eating.

A year ago, I was diagnosed with acid reflux. I changed my diet and avoided most of the food which aggravated my symptoms.  Included more fresh fruits and vegetables. Altered my lifestyle, including my sleeping habits, stopped wearing clothing that is too tight, and a whole lot more. I also took medicines to control the acid production. 

When I was given a 500ml bottle of QQ Alkaline Water Bottle a few months ago, I was happy to give it a try. After all, I have heard of friends who claim that alkaline water reduced the frequency and alleviate their GERD symptoms.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Beatrix NY + Dwell Studio

My kids are always excited to go back to school; not because they really love studying, but because they love to go back-to-school shopping. My girls always look forward to buying pens, notebooks, highlighters... all those things that they fill their pencil cases with. My girls have already outgrown their trolley bags, so they both bought themselves nice backpacks this year. (Insert ink) While my son’s school has issued strict requirements for his school bag. 

But as for me, I miss back to school shopping for little kids! Have you even seen the bags that BeatrixNY carries? So cute!

I was invited by my friends from Quirks Marketing Philippines, the husband and wife tandem of  Oli and Louren Sy, to an intimate launch at the Aruga by Rockwell. We were introduced to Beatrix New York over good food and wine.  Quirks Mareketing is also the exclusive distributor of Dwell Studio, and so we also got dibs on marked-down Dwell Studio items, and even got to preview the 2015 collection which will come out in stores this July 2015.

Beatrix NY

Beatrix NY is a New York City based company devoted to creating cool, contemporary stuff for kids. Our products combine a childlike love of whimsy and imagination with a grown- up sense of modern design and style. You’ll find our adorable characters and colorful graphics on products designed with a focus on simplicity, quality, & fun. We try to design products that kids will love and manufacture them so the love lasts. {via }

Beatrix New York makes cute and cool lunchboxes, backpacks and wheelie travel bags for stylish kids on the go. Eco-friendly, safe (PVC free & lead free), the bags are constructed from durable nylon and easy–to-clean laminated canvas, and are designed to absorb the wear and tear of daily adventures.

Decorated with adorable characters including Penelope the Octopus, Percival the Dinosaur, and Alexander the Robot, these lunchboxes and backpacks are made to be flaunted.

Penelope the Octopus is my daughter's favorite character in the Beatrix NY line. It's mine, too! Ang cute naman kase talaga.

Celebrity parents and their kids are often spotted carrying Beatrix. Beatrix NY’s celebrity following includes Halle Berry, The Beckhams, Katie Holmes, Meg Ryan, and Maggie Gyllenhall.

Features that I love about the BeatrixNY lunchboxes:
1. Attractive design in eye-catching-contrasting colors
2. Constructed from durable heavy-duty nylon and easy–to-clean laminated canvas
3. The design doesn't take off easily because it is embroidered on to the bag.
4. Easy to clean because they are machine washable
5. Insulated to keep food fresh until lunch time.

Beatrix NY products are sold around the world at hundreds of high-end boutiques and department stores. Luckily for us, Oli and Louren brought Beatrix to Manila, and we can shop for these cuties at Rustans and Hamley's.

Dwell Studio

Many of you might have already heard of Dwell Studio. They have the most attractive bedding sets - the designs are very hip and urban!  They also carry items for babies and kids.

When I visited their pop-up event, one unit of Aruga by Rockwell was converted into a Dwell Studio wanderland.

But what caught my eye was this set from the 2015 collection. I wasn't able to take an actual photo from the Aruga set-up, but this one from the Dwell Studio webpage made me swoon again.

Another look at it...

It was intimate shopping event for friends, and my friends and I enjoyed the spread of food, wine and the cupcakes.

Look! Even the cupcakes gor the memo to come in Beatrix NY characters! 

To know more about Quirks Marketing Philippines:
Webpage | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Global Academy & The SoMoms Cooking Workshop

To be honest with all of you, when I got married I did not know a single thing about cooking. I don't even think I stepped foot in the kitchen when I was single. My mom had a very good Kapampangan kusinera who cooked for us everyday until the day she passed. I remember, my parents did not even need a caterer for parties at home. Ate Aida was able to handle daily cooking and party fare with ease. She was so good that when I got married and moved to my own home, I would call her to ask for help. But she wasn't really very good with giving instructions over the phone. So I tried letting her write it down on a piece of paper... "konting bawang, isang dakot ng asin, tatlong patak ng toyo..."  My dishes turned out disastrously! Obviously, cooking didn't come intuitively to me. I needed specific instructions.

But with perseverance and resiliency borne out of my love for my own family, I was able to transform myself eventually into someone who can manage to find her way in the kitchen. I've come a long way from those kitchen disaster days. I can almost hear my husband heave a big sigh of relief! Teehee!

For homemakers like me, there's no excuse to NOT learn how to cook. After all, we can simply look up a recipe on recipe-sharing sites or just go to a trusted cooking/baking blog. But learning from a professional chef via a live demonstration is still the best way to go about it.

Chef Erika of Global Academy shows the SoMoms how to clean a fish. 
All of us haven't done anything like that before, so we are all eyes and ears... and camera!
Photo by Momma 'N Manila

SoMoms Exclusive Workshop

When the Global Academy offered to create an exclusive culinary workshop for the SoMoms, the 6 of us said we wanted to be a part of it immediately! I just knew when I said yes that this is one of the most fun events I would attend this summer.

Gloabal Academy offers diploma courses (4 - 12 months)  for people who are interested to go full-time as a professional in the culinary industry. On the other hand, the Epicurean Lab offers short courses for people who cannot commit to the lengthy time frame needed by the diploma courses offered by the Global Academy. It is also good to note that the Epicurean Lab is adding seminars for those entrepreneurs who aspire to go into the food business called L.I.F.E. (Lessons in Food Entrepreneurship).

Global Academy prepared a half-day demo and cooking workshop for us for the following recipes:

Roasted Fish with Herb Sauce
get printable recipe shared by Cai of Apples & Dumplings here

Citrus Braised Chicken with Turmeric
get printable recipe shared by Cai of Apples & Dumplings here

Carrot & Zucchini Muffins
get printable recipe shared by Cai of Apples & Dumplings here

Chef Erika spent the first part of the workshop showing us what to do.

The entire demonstration room actually looked this. Sort of like a mini lecture hall with elevated seats so that even participants seated at the back can be able to easily view what's going on in front.

The second part had us moving to the working kitchen for the actual cooking.  It was so much fun to be cooking alongside friends because there's so much chikka and joking around going on. But there were also times that we were serious and concentrated on the task on hand. Feeling nasa "kitchen stadium" lang.

We were assigned to group into 2s, and off we went to our own kitchen station' with the necessary tools and ingredients laid out already for us. My partner, Cai and I taking time to pose for the cameras inspite of the tight time schedule. teehee!

Benefits of Enrolling in a Cooking Class:

Attending a cooking class is not just for professional chefs and people who enjoy cooking. Cooking classes can also benefit people who wants to learn how to cook. Like what I mentioned already earlier, in Global Academy, there are many different styles of cooking classes for different levels, so there's a right fit of classes for all types of students.

1. Learn to Cook New Dishes & Work with New Ingredients to Serve Our Family Better Meals
One of the biggest benefits from taking a cooking class is that we learned how to cook new dishes and work with new ingredients. Learning how to cook a big fish from a professional chef will also help me cook it correctly in other recipes other than the one that Chef Erika taught us.

The best part about learning new dishes is we got to take home everything we did that day! Yay!

2. Learn Culinary Tips & Techniques from the Professionals
Sometimes the unknown can seem fearful. For instance, I've never worked with large fishes before. You can say they intimidated me. But when Coach Erika shared her tips and techniques with us, I realized that it wasn't so difficult, after all.

She shared that when we take off the scales of the fish, it is wise to put the fish inside a plastic cover so the plastic can catch all of the scales.

The great thing about learning new techniques when it comes to cooking is that we can apply them to our own style of cooking. Learning professional tips and tricks can give us the confidence to tackle what may seem to be a difficult recipe or help bring new life to an old recipe.

3. Save Money & Save Time 
It's true that taking a class will cost money, but in the long run we will be saving money by not having to eat out as much as we used to. For one, we can already make great tasting dishes at home that tastes as great as the ones in the restaurant, di ba? We don't have to deal with traffic pa!

It also saves us time because, let's face it, even if there are a lot of information available on the net, we still have to sift through the online content to check if the recipe seems complete and then we have to try each recipe to check which one is actually good. Sayang ang oras!

Chef Erika taught us how to plate our creations, as well. Pwede nang mag-date night at home!

4. Have fun while learning a new skill
One of the primary reason why I had loads of fun at this workshop is because I did it with friends!  We all previously met with Chef Erika prior to this workshop, so there's a pretty relaxed atmosphere in the workroom. We were all just having fun in the kitchen. Talking, laughing, eating and taking photos - all while cooking! Parang home economics class in high school lang. Teehee!  But there was also a time when all of us turned serious and just concentrated on cooking.
photo by Momma "N Manila

5. An education from one of the best culinary schools in the country.
Global Academy has 4 schools located in Alabang, Makati, Pasig and Quezon City. Their professional facilities feature intimate, hands-on classes with attentive chef-instructors. The chef-instructors are encouraged to compete internationally and continue with further education so as to hone their skills and knowledge. They have also brought in cutting edge and modern techniques of cooking to complement the traditional methods that they teach through their science department called The Epicurean Lab. 


Out of all the three dishes I learned that day, the fish recipe is the one that I think I will be making often. The reason is this one can be made pretty enough for a potluck dish, or can me made less elaborate for a weeknight dinner. When I recreated it at home, I didn't have a whole fish available, I just used sole fish fillets. But the recipe was still well-loved by everyone in the family!

This is how my fish looked like when I made it for my family a week after the Global Academy workshop

Roasted Fish with Herb Sauce
Printable Recipe shared by Apples & Dumplings here

2 pieces whole Barramundi or any fish with white flesh, scaled and cleaned (in my case, I used 3 fillets of sole fish)
2 pieces large tomatos, cored and sliced
2 pieces lemon, sliced into round (I didn't have lemons, so I substituted with a mix of calamansi and orange)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 bunch fresh parsely
2 sprigs fresh thyme
4 pieces dried bay leaf
1 kilo potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/8 thick rounds
salt and ground black pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 450ºF
Clean the fish by removing the scales, the gills and any innards. Rinse well.
Inside the cavity, lightly season with salt and pepper.
Stuff the cavity with slices of lemon, tomato, and garlic and continue to stuff more with fresh parsley, thyme and bay leaf.
Line a baking tray with foil. Arrange a bed of sliced potatoes. Drizzle a little olive oil, salt and pepper.
Place the fish on top and rub some olive oil onto the skin.
Roast the entire stuffed fish in the oven for about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving or cutting into the fish.

Herb sauce:
1/2 piece lemon, zested and juiced (I substituted with calamansi)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, optional
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon fresh oregano
1 table spoon fresh chopped Parsley
1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
1/2 tablespoon fresh chopped mint
salt and pepper to taste

To prepare herb sauce:
Gently warm the olive oil and butter in a small pot or pan. Remove from heat.
Add in the garlic and fresh herbs. Whisk in the mustard, lemon zest and juice. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust if needed. Allow to sit for about 10 minutes.
Serve with the herb sauce on the side.

I highly recommend attending a culinary class so we can get new ideas to revamp our dinner menu. It's also a good way to improve ourselves and our kitchen skills. To enjoy the class even more, gather a small group of like-minded friends and do this together. Promise, super saya!
The entire group: Jackie of Go Jackie Go,  Neva of Manila Mommy,  Me, Chef Erika, Cai of Apples & Dumplings, Mish of Momma 'N Manila, Michelle of My Mom-Friday

Global Academy

The Academy’s founders, Chef Rob Pengson and Chef Benjamin Ledesma, Jr., continue to work hard to uphold the vision of the school as an honorable organization that provides the highest standards of education and training for the benefit of its students, customers, partners and country.

The Academy opened its first branch in the Ortigas area in April 2007 with a mission of providing students with relevant education and professional training at modest rates in order to prepare aspiring chefs and industry professionals for the growing opportunities of the international culinary and hospitality industries. In order to service more people, Global opened its 2nd branch in Alabang Zapote road last 2008 and a year after it opened its 3rd branch in Quezon City. In 2010, Global has opened its 4th branch in Makati making them the only professional culinary school to have 4 branches in Metro Manila.

The Goose Station opened in 2009 and it is a 100% Global Academy staffed restaurant that advocates both traditional and modern techniques in producing world-class cuisine.

In 2012 Global Academy is the first culinary school in the Philippines to receive The World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS) Recognition of Quality Culinary Education. This means that the school’s culinary programs have met WACS’ high quality standards of culinary education. With this new recognition for quality culinary education from WACS, it does not only bring the school to the next level but it also raises its profile in the international global culinary landscape.

To know more about Global Academy:
Webpage  |   Facebook  |  Instagram  |  Twitter

To know more about Epicurean Lab